19 July 2007

The Book and Reality by Dave Vella (Times of Malta, July 19, 2007)

After reading Joseph Aquilina's letter (The Bible And Homosexuality, July 7), and his conviction that the Bible is the Word of God, I can't help but wonder if people like Mr Aquilina have actually read the whole Bible, or if they instead stick to the parts that suit them.

He points out that God makes no mistakes and quotes a whole chapter from the Romans. However, why not quote some other parts of the Bible which are less read?

Numbers 31:17-18: "Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves," said Moses (yes, the Moses of the Ten Commandments). He basically orders his soldiers to keep the virgins to themselves. So much for good example. (I won't even get into how they determined if they were virgins or not, but I can almost be certain it didn't involve a visit to a gynaecologist).
Lev. 21:17-21 says that one is not allowed to approach God's altar if one is blind or has less than perfect eyesight, has a broken foot or other defect.
Lev. 19:19 also forbids anyone from planting different seeds in the same field. Doesn't that make a substantial number of farmers sinners?

Exodus 35:2 says that anyone working on Sunday shall be put to death. Living in Canada, Mr Aquilina, I suggest visiting a shopping mall next Sunday and wonder why those behind the retail counters aren't on death row.

Quoting one of the lines Mr Aquilina picks to make his argument: "And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another" (Romans 1:27) - "the natural use of women". How else can one interpret that, other than women being regarded as objects of pleasure and the means for reproduction?

The books of the Bible were written over different periods of time, usually long after the events they describe. Also, numerous revisions and changes, not to mention translations (and translations of translations) have been made. If Mr Aquilina sincerely believes that during all this, no details have been lost and meanings have been changed, depending on the translator's understanding of the original text... then he needs a serious reality check.

Try describing an event which happened a few weeks ago and I'm sure you would not be able to get all the details down. Now try writing about an event that happened a few hundred years earlier, and you can see where this is going.

Does it ever occur to you why we hear the Bible stories over and over again, and yet, we only learn about - just an example - gravity only once in our lives? Is it possibly because some things are well within the boundaries of reason, whilst others in the scriptures are so absurd that the only way we accept them is by hammering them repeatedly in our heads from an early age?

The Bible may have a few good lessons, but it's not a book to be taken literally. We are taught from a very young age that it is The Book, and this is not questioned. But when reason comes into it, it really is just another book. Just because something consoles you, it doesn't make it any more real.

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